Not Always Warm Inside Mother Earths Womb

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For us humans who view earth as a living thing, we often like to use metaphorical language to help shape our understanding of the mysteries of the natural world.  Of course, for me, taking a winter jaunt into the frozen landscape is just another seasonal variance to expand my consciousness into other realms of mystery.

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At this time of the year, in my neck of the woods in Idaho, that be Riggins area more specifically, high pressure has brought sub-freezing temperatures. That spells hunkering tight for wildlife and scraping out a means of survival when conditions get tough, but also some particularly interest works of art written by some unseen hand of nature.

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Just yesterday I had this urge to go out looking for nature’s artwork.  Locally, there is an unusual rock (limestone maybe) formations that contains a cave hidden behind a curtain of waterfalls. It requires a steep hike to gain access to the entrance, then a rope for the last pitch to actually get inside the cave.

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But on this day, the upper portion of the rope (a permanent one left behind from climbers of long ago) was frozen under a slab of what looked like a micro river frozen in time. And the lower section of the tilted wall was so slippery, without crampons it was impossible to negotiate. I thought my chances to get inside were over, so I settled for photos from the outside only. But, I began thinking maybe there was another way in, so scrutinized nearby potential routes. Never had I needed or even seen one before, but soon saw some potential. It was not easy and required some serious moves in two places that came with the risk of a near vertical fall of about 30 feet, as a consequence of a mistake.

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Why didn’t I bring a rope?  Of course, I didn’t think I would need one, but how many times do these sorts of things happen that by now I should have known to come more prepared. So, the next best thing to do would be  put  my “what would MacGyver do”  thinking into play and entertain another solution from my bag of mindful tricks.  I did have a tripod with straps for carrying it on my back to free my hands for climbing. Flash, that was my light bulb.  Take the straps off to use for anchorage, (expert climbers use petons in solid rock for a good foundation) albeit shakey, to be sure, but better than nothing all the same. I really didn’t want to give up too easily.

So I managed to get a 6′ cam strap around a giant icicle for self-belay (granted, a little marginal) but reasonable with careful negotiation. Whew, I made it.  But, it did remind me of the fact that often times it takes degrees of risk to find deeper rewards offered by nature. While certainly not an expert,  I did rely on some of my semi-serious rock climbing days to make the harder and very calculated moves required to gain entrance.

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I knew my chances for success were actually high, if I did the precise moves required. All it took was seriously focused attention. No distractions, just unadulterated laser beam concentration. But having the experience of using this technique to negotiate serious rapids by boat when the river is not frozen gave me a high confidence level.

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I knew it would be worth the risk, and it was. Inside was a room full of magic-land. The shapes and formations of ice reminded me of entering a well kept secret of enchanted fairy land, where I could run rampant in fantasy world. The sound of dripping water that contributed to building all the little elf and pixie like figurines also created a surreal feeling of being able to see and listen to the heartbeat of mother earth from the inside out.

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There I go again with that metaphorical thinking and anthropomorphism. Such is the inspiration  of natures beauty and mystery. And such is it to be merely human. Ah, the birth of a new year.

Note: for those who would like to see video of this awesome place, go to our facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/Riverdoryfun

 

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Dear Santa – Grandfather Frost of the North Pole

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To me, it always seems a bit of an oxymoron to be an un-natural writer of natural history, always stumbling with grammar like trying to put together some complicated jig saw puzzle so the picture looks right when complete. Thus, since it is in the appropriate spirit and time of year, why not ask Santa for some new ideas and tools to make my stories easier to piece together. Oh, and perhaps some ways to help improve my guidesmanship – maybe as some sort of apprenticeship with Santa. After all, whom better to have  as a mentor for learning the delightful art of gift giving. (that is, teaching me how to be better at  opening other  people’s eyes to the gifts of nature, every where, all around).

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Dear Santa,

This time of year people are always talking about the “spirit” of the season, which is similar to other times of the year when I hear much about the spirit of this or that as it relates to the environment or human sociobiology.   So, I was wondering if you might be able to build me some sort of “spiritiscope” which would allow me and other people to see spirits.   After all,   scientists have made microscopes which allow man to see  complicated micro structures like a flies eye, and telescopes to see the vast complexities of a faraway galaxy.   The spirit of nature is often felt, and seen in terms of how things are affected by it,  but never in the raw essence of what form it takes.  That is, if it should take any form, at all. Maybe the spiritiscope could allow us to see the spirit world of many things magical. For magical thinking requires a magical instrument to see those magical things.

Many of the inventions of mankind, that have allowed us to develop  sophisticated technologies, are the result of our science and enlightenment.  Learning that the earth is not flat and that it revolves around the sun, and not the other way around, comes from science and the enlightenment that enabled it, and/or vise versa. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Circular thinking has no beginning or end.  But early on it was the things of wild nature that inspired various legacies of supernatural mythologies that often precipitated science out of the mix to give us real things to measure.   While the underlying ideas may have been written in and by the stars, for man to eventually make sense of, it was still the ability of being able to dream big dreams to be the very catalyst to turn imaginary things  into reality.

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The one thing prevalent in America is that famed ability to dream big.  Basically, as a country known as a melting pot for all people’s seeking the “American Dream,” it is important to nurture along what we dream with a dose of grounded truth.  For the real gift of nature is the inspiration it gives to people whom open their eyes to it.  When it corrals our dreams of the seemingly impossible, to the actual workings of nature, it does allow some things to manifest that at first seemed impossible. But, it is with the right ground truths in place that some of those dreams can be made possible.

In my dreams and request of you, Santa, for a brand new spiritiscope, I know it is as real as you are.  Each year you return and remind us all, no matter our age, how to believe in things we cannot see or touch, like love, which permeates through out all of nature through all life creatures.   It can be as simple as a snow flake, or as complicated as the water cycle, but it is  all those natural entanglements that inspires us at different levels to help perpetuate our appreciation for  things far greater than ourselves.  Yet, it also allows us to see how we are a part of it, while simultaneously being hitched to everyone and everything else which is inherent to the whole. Community is the foundational mechanism  upon which all relationships functions in nature, no matter the tribe, clan, or species.

So to all you folks  reading this out there in the cyberspace community, hoping your holiday is filled with good spirits. Part of my gift to you, are the following river and nature related quotes to help lift your thoughts,  inspire minds, and incite more dreams:

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“We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.” – Carl Sagan

“The hope of the future lies not in curbing the influence of human occupancy – it is already too late for that – but in creating a better understanding of the extent of that influence and a new ethic for its governance.” – Aldo Leopold

The elemental simplicities of wilderness travel were thrills not only because of their novelty, but because they represented
complete freedom to make mistakes. The wilderness gave them their first taste of those rewards and penalties for wise and foolish acts which every woodsman faces daily, but against which civilization has built a thousand buffers – Aldo Leopold

“Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse land because we
regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” – Aldo Leopold

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“We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever
since, that there was something new to me in those eyes – something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.” – Aldo Leopold

“Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of the wolf.” – Aldo Leopold

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“If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to
each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.” – Rachel Carson

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“ The ‘control of nature’ is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of Neanderthal age of biology and philosophy, when it was supposed that nature exists for the convenience of man.”  – Rachel Carson

“First, there is the myth that ignorance is a solvable problem. Ignorance is not a solvable problem; it is rather an inexplicable  part of the human condition. We cannot comprehend the world in its entirety. The advance of knowledge always carried with it the advance of some form of ignorance.” – David Orr

Protect the Earth

“The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.” – Oprah Winfrey

 “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new
experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. – Jon  Krakauer

Cheers
Gary & Barb 

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And finally, go to this link for a video that represents
the guiding spirit of Wapiti River Guides:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUQcMZLZpx8

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